Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In search of the 14x26 freewheel

While the name Suntour does not necessary equate with vintage Campagnolo, freewheels certainly do. When I rebuilt my Specialized Allez I was thrust into the world of freewheels (previously I made due with the 7 speed Regina freewheel and 7 speed Syncro Shifters). I decided to de evolve the bike to a 6 speed and ended up with several Suntour New Winner Ultra freewheels, 13x21 cogs and 13x24 cogs; and a Suntour New Winner Pro in 13x22 (and a couple of Shimano 14x28).

When I put my Vintage Cross Bike together I also bought a Suntour "Perfect" freewheel with 14x26 cogs.

Below right is one of the New Winner FWs; the 13x22, The 13x24 currently resides on the Allez.

Unfortunately the Perfect 14x26 skipped badly when in the big ring as a result of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th cogs being worn. Below left are the cogs; it is quite difficult to determine if a freewheel is worn simply by sight.

which really don't look so bad. In the short time I used the the freewheel, I discovered the 14x16 setup was almost perfect for my riding. I also discovered that 14x26T freewheels are few and far between. You can find them on worn for ultra cheap freewheels. or in good condition for $100. The Perfect was one of Sun Tour's first imported freewheels and the lowest on the food chain; the New Winner came later and are near the top. But I figured there must be some similarity in construction so I concocted a plan to use parts from the Perfect to made the New Winner a 14x 26 freewheel.

I took the two apart by screwing the largest ring into my work bench and used a chain whip.

The New Winner is on the left and is constructed much like a cassette, however there are two size rings; 2 large (22 and 20), 3 middle 18, 16, 14 and a third size lock ring (13). The Perfect is on the right. It has the same size large rings only there are 4 (26,23,20, 18) and two smaller cogs (the same size as the middle rings of the New Winner, but they are threaded(16 and 14). My first thought was to simply replace the New Winner big cogs (22/20) with the Perfect (26/22); This went together okay, but the 4 tooth gaps between the 18/22 and 22/26 were too much. So I ordered some cogs from a web store named Loose Screws. As the site explains, the cogs are numbered (click on the picture below).

The New Winner cogs markings were a little different so I knew which cogs I wanted .It would have been a short order if Loose Screws had all the cogs, but they didn't. What I wanted was a 14T "S" threaded cog lockring, a 16T "F" cog and a 20T "A". What I ended up with was the14T "S", and a 21T "A" (the 21 "A" is also black and has the Suntour Accushift ramps and tooth configurations). I also saw a problem with the second cog on the New Winner so I ordered a 16T "L" cog hoping I could use it (turns out I could, but not in the way I planned. When the cogs came and I put the freewheel together the issue with the "F" cog fully revealed itself.

My plan was to create a 14/16/18/20/23/26 freewheel, so I need the 14T and a middle size 20T cog to make it work; with the 21T it would still be a 14/16/18/21/23/26, which I saw as workable. The problem was the second cog had a strange configuration.

As you can see the upper is a standard medium size 16T cog and the lower is still medium size but a F cog configuration. If you click on the first picture you can see how the F cog normally fits in the freewheel splines.

If you click on the picture below the first you can see how the 16T A cog does not engage the splines very well and when I tried to assemble it this way, the cog would tilt top one side. The 16T L cog that I hoped would solve the problem was something entirely different and had the same threading as the lockring. What I ended up doing is cutting up the cog with a Dremel and creating a cog similar to the F. The work is a little rough but it fit great (see below)

And below is the final product. I rode on it today and it worked perfectly. Yes it was a lot of work, but I learned a lot, slew a dragon and have a working 14x26 freewheel, all at the same time! Happy riding!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shimano + Campagnolo Ergo = Shimergo

I have a 1999 Schwinn Peleton, which after a few years the Ultegra brifters (brake and shifter) started to get tired; meaning I sometimes had to "pump" the brifter to make it work. This apparently is common with Shimano shifters, especially the first 9 speed model (ST-5500/5501) , which is the model that came with my bike. The cause is two fold. First, Shimano shifters have a very light touch, which requires light (some may say weak) springs. Second the tolerances in Shimano brifters are very close; get a little grunge inside and it will slow down the workings. There are three remedies; the first is to spray the workings with a lubricant; the preferred make seems to be a silicone spray named LPS-2. The second is to try and disassemble the shifter and clean it out, but if you find a problem, your out of luck because Shimano sells no small parts for their brifters. The third remedy is to buy new brifiters. I decided the only reasonable remedy was the silicone spray. The bike was at the LBS at the time so I told them to do the job. Afterwards the shifters worked again, but I figured their days were numbered. The bike sat around for a while until I did the upgrades described above. Still the brifters needed to be replaced and I wasn't going back to Shimano.

I liked the looks and feel of the Campagnolo brifters, but I didn't have the money for a full conversion, plus Campy drivetrains are pretty restrictive. However, when I found the Shimergo web site, I knew I had the perfect solution. So what is a Shimergo? A Shimergo is a combination of a Shimano drivetrain and Campagnolo ErgoPower shifter. This website covers most the nuts and bolts on how to do it; Rear Shifting . For my bike all I would need is a set of 10 speed ErgoPower brifters. The compatibility issues between Campagnolo and Shimano is the rear cogs are further apart with the Campy cassettes. However as more cogs are added (ie a 9 speed to 10 speed) , the cogs are placed closer together to fit on the same size freehub body. This causes the cog spacing of a Campy 10 speed cogs to be more in line with the cog spacing of a Shimano 9 speed. Since the brifters determine the movements and indexing of the rear derailleur, a Campy 10 speed brifter would shift the nearly the same as a Shimnao 9 speed brifter.

Added to this swap is a re-routing of how the Shimano rear derailleur cable is attached, and you have a functioning 9 speed Campy brifter (the tenth shift is simply adjusted out with the high end stop) with a 9 speed Shimnao drivetrain.

The 10 speed shifters I decided to go with was a set of lightly use Daytona on ebay. The reason why I settled on the Daytona was #1 they were pre 2005 so I didn't have to deal with front indexing and #2, the Daytona name was a short lived, later changed to Centuar after Campy learned the name was a registered Trade Mark in the US.

To get ready in installing the new shifters I ordered some new Cinelli cork bar tape and a set of Campagnolo cables. Using the old bar tape is sometimes possible; especially if it is a dark color and isusually warpped opposite the original wrapping. I reused the original white bar tape until I received the second package of new tape (I'll explain later. The old tape is Cinelli white cork, so the bars looked a bit like a faded zebra.

Up to the Peleton, I had never worked on brifters and these were Shimano. I have wrapped numerous handlebars, including those with brake housings (aero) under the tape. until very recently, Shimano did not route their shifter housings under the handlebar tape, but from the beginning Campagnolo did. Many competition handlebars have grooves for the housings. Whwn I took off the bar tape on the Peleton, I was happy to see the handlebar had grooves in the back and front so it can accommodate both the housings. That is not to say that without the grooves you can not use the handlebars, it just looks a little cleaner.

It may not be obvious from this photo, but Campy has two routings for the shifter cables; one that would utilize a front groove if available and another where the shifter cable can share the same path as the brake.

After the placement of the brifters and taping down the cables, it time to wrap the bars with tape. I have always liked Cinelli cork tape. I had bought some Cinelli in gray and blue, but as I started wrapping the bar, it started tearing and eventually broke. I have never had this tape tear or break before so I feared the Cinelli tape quality had been compromised. Fortunately I tried another box of Cinelli tape and it was the quality I had grown to expect. This time I chose the Stars and Stripes (ie American Flag) cork tape.

Now that's handlebar tape! I have been warned however that the Cinelli printed tape tends to fade quickly; we shall see.